Vulkan’ize Graphic and Compute API’s

Vulkan is a low-level cross-platform graphic API broadly supported. There are several projects to implement all other the existing graphic and compute API’s like OpenGL, OpenGL ES, OpenCL, WebGL, DirectX and even Glide on top of Vulkan. Some projects translate Vulkan to other API’s in case there is no native support available due to restrictions of the operating system or not yet available drivers.

2019-05-02 14_49_23-

The implementation of all the other graphic and compute API’s on top of Vulkan greatly improves compatibility and reduces development efforts of hardware drivers that got more and more complex with the legacy API’s. This unification on one hardware driver reduces development efforts and bugs. The perfect example is RADV for AMD GPU’s, basically just 2 developers implemented a new driver in one year. Vulkan is the right approach to unify the other API’s for the first time successfully. One improvement in the Vulkan stack will benefit all the implementations on top of it.

Vulkan target

  • DirectDraw -> Vulkan
    • DD1..DD7 -> D3D9
      • see DXWrapper, it is wrapping DirectDraw 1 until DirectDraw 6 calls into DirectDraw 7 and then to Direct3D 9 (using Dd7to9)
    • DD8
      • no translation to Vulkan available
  • Direct3D -> Vulkan
    • D3D1..D3D6 -> D3D7
    • D3D7
      • dgVoodoo2 see D3D8. Besides dgVoodoo2 there is no other project to translate D3D7 e.g. to D3D8, D3D9 or D3D10.
      • no open source Vulkan translation available
    • D3D8
      • DXWrapper includes D3D8to9 (license BSD, which is converting Direct3D 8 to Direct3D 9. It can be used together with D9VK. Additionally DXWrapper can convert DirectInput 1-7 to 8 (requires no further translation as it is input only).
      • dgVoodoo2 (license proprietary but free of charge, translates Direct3D 1-7 plus Direct3D 8.1 to DirextX 10.1. This allows the  combination with DXVK. Would be nice if GOG would support to release this as open source!
      • See GalliumNine, it has a D3D8 to D3D9 codepath
    • D3D9
      • DXVK (see below, previously D9VK)
      • GalliumNine+Zink (refer to OpenGL below). As soon as Zink will be merged in Mesa mainline it could be used together with GalliumNine to provide D3D9 support via Gallium3D on Vulkan. GalliumNine added NIR support and this would allow the combination with Zink, read, NIR was enabled in Mesa 19.1. GalliumNine is based on Gallium3D and provides for Direct3D 9 native API’s for Wine directly out of Mesa, read Wine-Staging.
    • D3D9+D3D10+D3D11
      • DXVK (license zlib, translates DX9 (since 1.5), DX10 (since 0.70) and DX10 to Vulkan and it works impressively well on Proton (Steam Play) and Wine in Linux. DXVK is almost feature complete. Follow this guide to get DXVK up and running in Wine or just use Steam Play (Proton). Previously D9VK (license zlib, was developed in a own branch to focus on DX9 to Vulkan, but as D9VK was based on DXVK it was merged back to DXVK on 2019-12-16.
    • D3D12
      • VKD3D (license LGPL, is a Wine project and aims to map Direct3D 12 directly to Vulkan. For now there very few real D3D12 exclusive titles, so this project is more or less nice to have. As Direct3D 12 borrowed a lot of concepts from Vulkan and its predecessor Mantle, it’s much less complex compared to Direct3D 11, though it’s adaption is slow. Even though VKD3D is developed by the Wine community, it is kept separately so that other developers can use it and the DXVK main developer supports now the development. On proprietary Apple platforms VKD3D supports the use of MoltenVK to translate from Vulkan further to proprietary Metal.
  • OpenGL -> Vulkan
    • ZINK (license MIT, implements OpenGL translation to Vulkan via Gallium3D API calls in Mesa based on NIR. It was merged to Mesa on 28th October 2019 and is available since Mesa 19.3. Zink supports OpenGL 2.1 and OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0. OpenGL 3.0 is in development.
  • OpenGL ES/WebGL -> Vulkan
    • ZINK (refer to OpenGL above)
    • ANGLE (license BSD, is a cross platform project developed by Google, see The project describes itself as “ANGLE currently provides translation from OpenGL ES 2.0/3.0 to desktop OpenGL, OpenGL ES, Direct3D 9, Direct3D 11 and Vulkan. Support to translate OpenGL ES 2.0 to Vulkan is available in Android Q, OpenGL ES 3.0 and 3.1 is in development, 3.2 is planned. This project is interesting as it allows at least Android, Linux and Windows to translate OpenGL ES to Vulkan. With this the GPU hardware vendor for Android would only need to supply a Vulkan driver and not as well the more complex OpenGL ES driver. Another user of ANGLE is hardware acceleration in Chromium and Firefox (with the Webrender engine written in Rust to translate OpenGL ES if not available directly to D3D11) on Windows, so even here Vulkan could be great to unify all drivers.
  • OpenCL -> Vulkan
  • Glide -> Vulkan

Vulkan base

  • Vulkan -> CPU fallback (without GPU)
    • Kazan (formerly Vulkan-CPU, license LGPLv2.1, is a Vulkan driver for Linux that runs on top of a regular CPU in case a GPU Vulkan driver is missing like for Nvidia where no open source driver is available or in a virtual machine. Instead of C++ the new Kazan is rewritten in Rust. Use cases
      • Computing tasks
      • Provide software rendering for desktops based on Vulkan (not yet available, basic Vulkan support landed in Qt 5.10 and GTK 4 toolkits) or simple games (required e.g. in case of Nvidia or some ARM devices where no open source Vulkan driver is available)
      • Testing a vendor neutral Vulkan implementation
      • Virtual machines/clouds without a real GPU
    • SwiftShader (license Apache 2.0, offers a cross platform Vulkan 1.1 on CPU backend (previously based on OpenGL ES and Direct3D 9) similiar to LLVM for OpenGL, . Combined with ANGLE it could allow other API’s like OpenGL ES to run as well on the CPU. SwiftShader can be seen as well like a fallback driver in case the GPU driver doesn’t work or for testing, it is used by Android, Chrome and Firefox (not yet enabled).
  • Vulkan -> Vulkan/DX12/Metal/OpenGL ES
    • gfx-rs (license Apache 2.0, is a Mozilla effort to develop a graphics/hardware abstraction library written in Rust. The gfx-hal is a hardware abstraction layer based on the Vulkan-ic to translate to native backends on Vulkan and additionally to DX12, Metal and OpenGL ES (OpenGL, WebGL). Mozilla is using this for the WebGPU-servo project to use Vulkan for the Web ( So besides Firefox becoming a user of gfx-rs they collaborate as well with Dolphin and RPCS3 to improve MacOS support
  • Vulkan -> Metal
  • Vulkan -> DX12
    • See gfx-rs
  • Vulkan -> WebVK/WebGPU -> Vulkan, DX12, Metal



SPIR-V is a platform independent intermediate language layer for OpenCL and GLSL that is supported by Vulkan. It will be extended to NIR by the nouveau developers.


The intermediate representation NIR is becoming the common foundation of the Mesa Gallium3D drivers and it allows the Vulkan developments to share more code (paths) with OpenGL and OpenCL. Originally NIR was developed by Intel for their OpenGL mesa driver, later support for the Intel ANV Vulkan driver was added. NIR provided as well the groundwork for the community Vulkan driver RADV for AMD GPU’s.

NIR Status


Glslang could convert HLSL as well to SPIR-V, but not at the same time with the output to DXIL and SPIR-V. Microsoft open sourced in 2017 the Direct X shader compiler DXC for HLSL (high level shading compiler) based on LLVM/Clang. Orginally it did output only DXIL for Windows 10, but Google added in June 2018 a SPIR-V output, which in turn can be used by Vulkan, OpenGL 4.6 and OpenCL (

Shader Conductor

Shader Conductor (license MIT, is a new project from Microsoft. Besides the DXIL output the Direct X shader compiler can provide as well SPIR-V. SPIR-V could then output to Vulkan or to OpenGL via SPIRV-Cross. Besides this SPIRV-Cross allows as well to go again OpenGL (via GLSL), OpenGL ES (via ESSL), D3d 9/10/11 (via MSL) or to Metal (via MSL), for more details read

Legacy Projects

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.